If you are thinking of expanding your business to include marketing to customers in a different country or who speak another language, then there are some things you need to consider. Even if you have a firm knowledge of SEO in your domestic market, you might find that international SEO will throw up some challenges you may not have considered. Here are some of the things that you are going to need to consider if you are going to open up your company to international marketing.

Country Or Language?

The first thing you are going to need to do is to decide whether you are going to market to a specific country or a specific language. It may be the case that multiple languages are used in one country and in another case one language can be used in multiple countries. You might also find that there are different dialects in a single country. You need to know your target, and this will help you determine many important things such as site language, how many sites you build, maintain and so much more.

Site Structure

There is no one right way to do things when it comes to your site structure with international SEO. The advantages and disadvantages will need to be looked at on a case by case basis to make sure you get the right one for you. There are three main options:

  1. Subdirectory after generic top-level domain (gTLD) – This structure will involve you putting content that is aimed at a particular country or language in a folder within the parent site. This is going to be the cheapest option and boosts the parent site’s domain authority score. However, you might find that the people who visit your site may not want to shop from a site that operates from another country.
  2. Country code top-level domain (ccTLD) – This structure will involve you running a separate website for each target country. A benefit of this could be that visitors may prefer to buy from a site with their own country’s domain. However, building and maintaining separate sites is going to be the most expensive site structure. Building up organic search traffic can take years, so it is going to be a lengthy process.
  3. Subdomain after gTLD – Here you will have to create a subdomain within the parent domain. This is less expensive that ccTLD but the structure is less likely to contribute or service page authority from the parent site.

Keywords Are Key

You need to research keywords. This will not only help you to optimise for your traffic from the search engine, but it will also help assess the international local market for your product or service. You should research these things for each of your target markets:

  • Keywords and phrases used to find your business in international markets
  • Organic search volume in each market from the queries
  • Level of competition in each market from the queries
  • Your current ranking in each market from the queries

You should start with terms that are already being used to find you and then research related terms. Aim for terms with higher search volume and difficulty in ranking for both terms. There is a variety of tools that are available to research keywords. Make sure you have selected the right country and language options to obtain the relevant data for your market.

Major Search Engines

When you are looking at SEO, optimising for Google is going to be a rather safe idea. This is because Google dominates the market with over 91% of the global market share. Bing is the closest competitor globally with 2.51% of the global market. In specific countries, Google has a weaker hold than in others, and if you are going to market to these countries, you are going to want to optimise your site for the other major search engines. Here is a list of some of the other major search engines in various countries that you should think about optimising your site for:

  • Baidu – Google has a 4.7% market share in China, so you are going to need to make sure you optimise for this search engine.
  • Yandex – This is the dominant search engine in Russia. They own 58% if the country’s search engine market share but they use different algorithms than Google so do some research into this one.
  • Naver – Many Korean webmasters block Google and Naver is the major search engine in South Korea.
  • Yahoo Japan and Yahoo Taiwan – Localising your website in East Asian countries will mean that your website is going to be more noticed. You should use the keyword research tools that each country’s Yahoo engine provides when doing your research.

Location Of Your Server

It used to be important that your website was hosted on a local server. This is because a local server will support faster site speeds which will provide your user with a better experience. Google has said that local servers are no longer extremely important for international SEO thanks to the addition of CDNs that will deliver content based on location. However, there are some countries where a local server is still needed, and these include China, Russia, and Japan.

Other Geo-Targeting Tips

Content redirects – Google has warned businesses against using IP addresses to redirect people to language or country-specific content. There are many reasons not to redirect traffic, typically to do with user experience. Instead, you should offer language choices and narrow it down based on the browser’s language setting.

Localised content – It doesn’t matter if you go through all the site set up and research if you don’t have localised content. Many businesses are under the misguided impression that you can just run a page through a translator if you don’t understand. But this isn’t an option yet as the machine translation will look unprofessional and reflect poorly on your company perhaps missing out key information. Images and site layout should be localised too. This could be the difference between your company entering a new market or just standing at the edge. As well as this, localised content will generate more organic traffic because your audience will be able to find your content easier.

Local links –  One of the best ways to build your page authority is local linking. If you do this, it will signal to search engines that the traffic of that country should be directed to your site.

We hope you find this article helpful and will consider these points if you are thinking of marketing your company internationally, using international SEO.


If you need help creating or managing your International SEO campaign, click here. You can also contact a member of the team on 01245 333400.